XF Reviews

XF

Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel SE Driven – Paul Horrell

Wonderful car, the Jaguar XF. So why you don’t see more of them? Simple. In Britain, 80 per cent of all BMW 5-Series, Benz E-Class and Audi A6 sales are four-cylinder diesels. And 50 per cent are estates. With only a V6 diesel and a V8 petrol, the XF is aiming at just 20 per cent of the goalmouth. Having only a saloon, it’s confined to 50 per cent of that 20 per cent. That’s 10 per cent. Yes, Jaguar is turning its back on nine tenths of the market. D'oh!

This is the trouble with being a relatively small company. There’s little spare money to invest in expensive new engines and body styles. But if you can’t invest, you can’t get the sales. So, er, you remain a small company. The circle is implacably vicious.

Luckily, Jaguar Land Rover’s owner, Tata, is taking the long view, and at the moment is over-investing in search of long-term growth. JLR has spent big money developing the Freelander engine into something far more refined and powerful, good enough for a Range Rover – the Evoque – and a Jaguar. And it’s an even more costly job than you'd think, since the Jag needs its own layout as it’s mounted lengthways in the car.

So at last the XF’s sales should be unshackled in Britain and the rest of Europe. This four-pot diesel will help. And yes, a rather slinky estate is coming too, though not for over a year.

Frustratingly even the diesel is still just a prototype; you can order it now, but deliveries don’t start until September.

The engine isn’t the only new thing; the transmission is an eight-speed ZF, as used by BMW. Land Rover and Jaguar are gradually adopting it on all their longitudinal vehicles. This Jag also has a stop/start system, with a clever starter motor that can kick it back to life instantly, even if you need to restart while the crank is still slowing down to a stop – a not-infrequent event that sends other stop/starts haywire.

On the road, the XF has mucho whoosh over a nice wide torque spread, and plenty of refinement nearly all the time. Sometimes you notice the ‘box has been set for obsessive economy – get stuck behind a truck at a steady 50mph, and it goes for seventh, leaving the engine grumbling agriculturally at about 1,200rpm. But you always over-ride with the paddles. On a motorway, it’s just a distant hum. And as the engine is a bag of cement lighter than the V6, it’s even better in sharp corners.

As to the numbers, if you compare auto with auto (Jag gives no manual option), the BMW 520d is still a sliver more economical and speedy. But not so’s you'd notice. If you like the XF, there’s now no rational reason to buy a rival saloon.

We like:
Still feels like a Jaguar
We don’t like:
Can’t we have an estate now?
The verdict:
For Jaguar, a car it needed years ago; for the rest of us, a pain-free economic policy
Performance:
0-62mph in 8.5secs, max 140mph, 52.3mpg
Tech:
2179cc, 4cyl, RWD, 190bhp, 332lb ft, 1760kg, 149g/km CO₂
Tick this on the options list:
Growler wheel nuts, price TBA
And avoid this:
Intelligent High Beam, £200

Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel Reviewed – June 2011

The Jaguar XF has run off with the What Car? best executive crown four years running now, but with a choice of either 5.0-litre V8 petrol or 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines, it has always had limited appeal to cost-conscious business users.

Not any more. To coincide with a mid-life face-lift, Jaguar has launched its refreshed XF with a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine.

What’s it like to drive?

Is this engine not a bit weedy for such a big car? Not a bit of it. Yes, its responses aren’t quite as instant as those in the V6-powered cars, but with 188bhp and a crushing 332lb ft of torque, it has the bragging rights over the likes of BMW’s 520d and Audi’s 2.0-litre A6 – and they're not exactly short of get-up-and-go. What’s more, the Jag comes with an all-new eight-speed gearbox, which is smoothness personified.

Admittedly, a four-cylinder engine is never going to be as silky smooth as a six-cylinder unit, and, yes, you do feel some vibration through the base of the driver’s seat at idle, especially when the engine is cold. Also, accelerate hard and there’s no disguising the fact you're driving a diesel, but once the car is settled into a cruise you'll struggle to tell it apart from its larger-capacity sibling.

The entry-level XF still drives as a Jaguar should. No other executive car can match the XF’s wonderful blend of fluid handling and comfort. Its sharp, accurate steering and neutral front-to-rear weight distribution mean it flows through bends with the agility of a sports car. Equally, when you're just cruising to your next meeting it’s as relaxed and as refined as the best luxury cars.

What’s it like inside?

There are small – but welcome – improvements. More-supportive seats provide better long-distance comfort, new materials create a slightly classier feel and there’s a new touch-screen entertainment system that’s much more user-friendly. In all, the XF’s cabin is a better place to spend time, but it’s still not as classy or comfortable as a 5 Series'.

Should I buy one?

This new XF has massive appeal, partly due to its more contemporary look and partly due to its attractive £30k list price and comprehensive equipment list. More pertinently, this 2.2-litre version is capable of a very impressive 52.3mpg on average.

Hang on, though, that’s still quite juicy compared with a BMW 520d’s 57.6mpg. More telling, the XF’s 149g/km CO₂ output places it four bands higher in the company car taxation scale. As a result, you can expect to pay £41 per month more in tax than you will with the BMW. If you're heart is set on an XF, though, you can be safe in the knowledge that you're driving one of the best executive cars on sale.

An Immensely Competitive And Recommendable Car – June 2011

Vicky Parrott, Autocar reviews the Jaguar XF 2.2D.
What Is It?

A four-cylinder diesel Jaguar XF. Which doesn’t sound like much but it is in fact the model that Jaguar needs most right now, with sales burgeoning everywhere except for in the fleet-friendly, low-emission diesel saloon sector, which the company has been absent from in recent years.

This 2.2-litre turbodiesel motor (which you'll know from the Freelander amongst many others) is the company’s answer to that void in the lineup. Putting out 188bhp and 332lb ft, the engine is fitted here for the first time in a longitudinal configuration and is mated to a new eight-speed ZF auto gearbox, which goes a long way to helping provide the entry-level XF’s headline figures of 149g/km and 52.3mpg.

Though we've driven a prototype model, this is our first steer in a final production car. Our test car came in Premium Luxury trim, which looks a little expensive but does come fully laden with kit including sat-nav, keyless entry and heated seats amongst other luxuries.

What’s It Like

Seriously good. What comes across immediately is that the new XF, despite its under-cylindered stature next to the rest of the range, is still characterised by the same unflappable, serene sensation that you get in every other XF. Intangible as that is it is significant because it means that this base car feels as well-polished as any other model in the range. The mild upgrades to the interior switchgear and more noticeable changes to the front end undoubtedly contribute to that impression.

In more quantifiable terms the XF proves as thoroughly hassle-free as you would hope. The engine responds well and offers as much urge as you would expect of a car of this class, specialising in the sort of calm, swift in-gear progress that comes from an over-indulgence of torque.

Equally, if you choose to slot the gearbox into ‘S’, the whole powertrain perks up a bit, the ZF box responds well whether in auto or in manual, and you can really make good use of the well-sorted chassis.

But the XF 2.2d is not flawless. Though ride quality is settled much of the time, manages bigger bumps very well and benefits from well-restrained body roll, it also pick up high-frequency undulations or disturbances in the road surface – particularly at low speeds – even on the 18-inch alloys that our test car rode on.

Equally, engine refinement is acceptable but not exceptional. The diesel grumble does encroach into the cabin and is unmistakably that of a four-pot. It’s particularly noticeable on re-start, though otherwise the stop-start system is effective at responding to the well-judged brake pedal feel, with very little hesitation before the engine fires up when required.

Still, the steering remains nicely weighted and in general this XF feels exactly as composed and absorbing as you would hope.

Should I Buy One?

Absolutely. It’s a shame that the XF falls short of the 520d’s benchmark emissions because for many fleet buyers that will be the biggest deciding factor – particularly given that the BMW is well established as an excellent proposition. Even so this is a very rewarding car that offers an extra element of exclusivity that could help make up for that shortfall. A mid-spec Luxury model would make more sense for most given its sub-£34k price and decent spec, but regardless of trim it’s clear that the XF is an immensely competitive and recommendable car.

Jaguar XF 2.2D

Fresh styling and cleaner, more efficient engine aim to take compact exec to the top of the class

Verdict

Jaguar has finally given the XF the face it deserves and the engine it really needed. At last, it’s a viable proposition for the business buyers who couldn’t justify the expensive-to-tax V6 version. However, while the car’s beauty is unrivalled and the new entry 2.2-litre diesel is a gem, the revisions aren’t enough to take the Jag back to the top of the class. It’s neither as clean nor as economical as rivals. But that said, there is no cheaper Jaguar to run

As a former Auto Express Car of the Year, the XF needs no introduction. However, it’s no longer top cat in the executive car class, having been usurped by the latest BMW 5-Series and, more recently, the new Audi A6. In an attempt to claw back lost ground, Jaguar has significantly revised its best-seller.

There’s a fresh look, a revamped cabin and, most importantly, an all-new entry-level 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with stop-start technology. The first thing that grabs you about the updated XF is its new headlamps, which resemble those on the XJ, complete with LEDs arranged in a ‘J’ pattern. As a result, the car now looks as jaw-dropping as the C-XF concept that previewed it in 2007.

Other changes include a redesigned grille, sculpted bonnet and streamlined wings, as well as revised tail-lights. The whole package is extremely elegant, and sets the Jaguar apart from its clinically styled German rivals.

Inside, there are new sturdy satin-feel switches, which are pleasing to the touch and the eye. Further cabin updates include a revised full-colour touchscreen and new seat choices. Until now, Jaguar hasn’t offered a four-cylinder diesel, and this always left a massive hole in the XF range. With CO₂ ratings driving company car sales, not having one in this class was like opening an ice-cream parlour and not selling vanilla.

So does the new 2.2-litre deliver?

From a driver’s point of view, it’s great. Performance is strong, overtaking effortless and, even when worked hard, diesel clatter is minimal. Plus, it works well with the smooth-shifting eight-speed auto, which is relaxing in full automatic mode, and fun when you take charge with the steering wheel paddleshifters.

But here lies the problem. Torque converters impair efficiency, and this is partly why the Jag emits 20g/km more CO₂ than either a BMW 520d or Audi A6 2.0 TDI. That means it will cost company buyers on the higher rate of tax up to an extra £605 in benefit-in-kind payments.

Fuel bills will be steeper, too. While Jaguar claims 52.3mpg, our car averaged only 35.8mpg during a period of sedate extra urban driving.

Then there’s the price. Despite the new entry-level engine, the XF still starts at up to £1,520 more than a 5-Series – although you get a lot more kit for your money.

As for the rest of the car, it’s business as usual. That means good high-speed comfort, a well insulated cabin, sharp steering and an agile rear-wheel-drive chassis that can entertain on a twisty road.

Sadly, the same negatives remain, too. The low-speed ride isn’t great, rear headroom is a little tight and the boot is the smallest in the class, unless you forsake the space-saver spare wheel.

And this rather neatly sums up the XF – it’s a great car, and the revisions broaden its appeal, but buying one still means making a few compromises.